The Atlanta Falcons spent the first two months of the offseason retooling their team, ridding themselves of some long-time organization members to bring in some new blood.
Now, that new roster will be put to the ultimate test.
The NFL released its official schedule for the 2020 season Thursday evening, and the Falcons drew the hardest slate of any team in the league, per this model from Sharp Football Stats, which is based on Vegas' forecasted 2020 win totals.
By playing six games in a rejuvenated NFC South division, with the always-competitive New Orleans Saints, the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the new-regime Carolina Panthers, Atlanta was bound to deal with a harder schedule than most. It will also play the Green Bay Packers in primetime on the road and the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have the highest projected win total (11.7) of any Atlanta opponent.
The Falcons will compete in 10 “hard” games. Any team with more than eight forecasted wins is considered a hard matchup. Any team with less than eight wins is considered easy. They have five easy games and one neutral matchup — against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are predicted to win exactly eight contests.
Other teams of note:
- The Indianapolis Colts have the easiest projected schedule in the league by a wide margin.
- The Buccaneers have the 11th easiest schedule.
- New Orleans slots in at 23.
- Carolina sits at 27.
Of course, it is May 8, so all of this is simply fun offseason conjecture. The sportsbooks are sure to change, and the season is sure to shape out differently — for better or worse for the Falcons — come their opening game Sept. 13.